Workbench finish

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Forum topic by rwe2156 posted 02-03-2016 05:13 PM 600 views 0 times favorited 5 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View rwe2156's profile


2122 posts in 903 days

02-03-2016 05:13 PM

Two questions:

1. I used BLO on one but the new one is made of maple Klauzs suggests Waterlox. Gonna do some testing first, but what did you use?

2. Did you use a toothing plane on the surface or leave it slick?

-- Everything is a prototype thats why its one of a kind!!

5 replies so far

View drcodfish's profile


115 posts in 374 days

#1 posted 02-03-2016 06:10 PM

I used Waterlox, 3 coats of sealer (medium sheen) and a fish coat of satin. When I was done it looked awfully shiny but now six months on it looks like a working mans bench, the shine is gone but it still has a finished appearance. I am very happy with the results. The thing I like best is that the Waterlox produced a very hard finish. I’m not the most carefull woodworker and this finish was definitely the right way to go for me. Even though I used locally sourced hard maple, the unfinished top was still prone to dings, dents and scratches.

No toothing plane for me, my bench top would be considered slick by most. but that’s where the dogs and hold fasts come in. People talk about smoothing and flattening their bench top every so often, I think the hard finish will allow me to spend more time working on projects and less time working on my bench top. However, I must admit, planing those big old maple planks flat a smooth was some of the most satisfying wood working I have ever done.

Please consider the source; I consider myself a novice woodworker who just happened to luck in to the right choice for me, (though I did an awful lot of reading before I launched in to the bench project0. Yo might be better served to listen to others with more experience. You can see photos of my build on my Flickr site here

-- Dr C

View shampeon's profile


1705 posts in 1605 days

#2 posted 02-03-2016 06:31 PM

Well, it’s not the finish that causes a workbench top to need occasional flattening. It’s (mostly) the wood moving. A film finish of a couple microns thickness is no match for wood movement caused by humidity changes.

I use a mixture of BLO/denatured alcohol/shellac in about equal measure. I didn’t do more than wipe it on, let it set, and wipe it off. The mix dries faster than straight BLO. It keeps glue and dirt from sticking, and is easy to spot repair.

I don’t actually see the point of putting a film finish on a workbench, but it’s really up to you. I don’t tooth my bench top, though I have a toothing plane.

-- ian | "You can't stop what's coming. It ain't all waiting on you. That's vanity."

View Fred Hargis's profile

Fred Hargis

3848 posts in 1915 days

#3 posted 02-03-2016 09:33 PM

I’d sure skip a film finish, it will eventually flake from the work going on and not be so easy to repair. While a lot of guys like just BLO or a danish oil (varnish and BLO) I used a mixture of beeswax (dissolved in turpentine) and BLO. The nice thing about this is glue pops right off, and it’s very easy to repair. Should you decide to do this, I’d suggest using MS instead of turpentine. (more info here) As for the wood itself, I didn’t use a toothed blade, though I did clean the joints up a little with a hand plane after it was all glued together. So I guess you’d call it slick; I call it smooth.

-- Our village hasn't lost it's idiot, he was elected to congress.

View paratrooper34's profile


867 posts in 2374 days

#4 posted 02-03-2016 11:32 PM

BLO on mine. Glue and epoxy pop right off. Easy to put on, easy to reapply.

I would never even contemplate using a toothing plane on my bench top. And until you mentioned it, I have never heard nor read about such a thing. I see no value in that.

-- Mike

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile


13571 posts in 2040 days

#5 posted 02-04-2016 12:22 AM

My bench top isn’t perfectly flat, but is improving over time. I’ve opted to get there with a toothing cutter in my LN #164. The surface is visible in the pic above. It does aid with grip / reduces sliding of stuff on the bench top. So I see value.

The only finish I’ve applied is Danish Oil. Easy, and not BLO, as I don’t like using that stuff for a totally unsubstantiated reason I can’t think of right now.

-- Don't anthropomorphize your handplanes. They hate it when you do that. -- OldTools Archive --

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